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Panic Disorders Message Board

Panic Disorders Board Index

I guess since this is my first post to this forum, I will give you some background on myself. From time to time, ever since I can remember, my heart will start beating erratically while performing some form of aerobic exercise. It doesnít happen all the time and when it does, I usually just rest and the rhythm will return to normal. Well about 5 years ago my heart started doing itís thing and I had a hard time calming down. The next day while at work, it started for no reason and I had a full blown panic attack. Looking back, I can easily see how my body led up to having a panic attack because of the way I was overreacting stressfully to everything.

Anyway, I went to the ER and followed up with my family doctor and was prescribed Xanax and Zoloft. I had a hard time with Zoloft and I was convinced that I had a heart problem so I had a lot of tests performed and everything came back normal. Once I had the tests, I told myself everything was ok when the heart thing began and I would calm down easily. Also, once the Zoloft side effects went away, I started doing great and I eventually got of Zoloft about 1.5 years later.

Everything was ok until two years ago. I developed what I would like to call a head pressure like sensation that would not go away. OTC medication did nothing. I saw my family doctor and he put me on Naproxen (ie double strength Aleve). This all happened right before I left on a cruise. While on the cruise I drank alcohol while still taking Naproxen and developed gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers plus gastritis and was hospitalized in Mexico. Once I returned to the states, the head pressure sensation intensified and I developed this nagging dullness under my right rib. Since then, I have had a lot of tests such as abdominal MRI, head MRI, abdominal CT scan, HIDA scan, ultrasound, colonoscopy, EGD, etc. I fooled around with several medications and stopped with the Limbitrol (tricylic antidepressant, low dose twice a day) which seems to help. The head pressure sensation finally went away but the upper right abdominal discomfort has never left. My liver enzymes have moved slightly up but my gastro doctor doesnít think itís serious but is a result of the heavy drinking I have been doing for the last 6 months, so I have stopped for now and will be retested in 8 weeks.

What I have been challenged with, especially the last 6 months, is trying to hold off panic attacks. My heart is doing itís thing again and I went to the ER a few weeks ago (I was playing squash quite hard and my heart started palpitating) and by the time a doctor did an EKG, my rhythm was back to normal (had to wait in waiting room for 2 hours). My family doctor has an open door for me in case the irregular rhythm starts while his office is open meaning he will perform an EKG immediately if I can get my heart to do its thing. He said thatís the only way he can get a true diagnosis of whatís going on with my heart.

I told him that I am usually able to take .25mg Xanax and I could control the panics. The Xanax still helps but I feel that I require them too frequently now. I have quit doing things (such as jogging) fearing that it may trigger an attack, I definitely have anticipatory anxiety since all I think about all day is when is it going to happen, and I am now developing Agoraphobia (I keep Xanax in the car, at work and at home). He prescribed Lexapro and I am scared of taken it due to the side effects. I didnít respond well to Zoloft but the side effects did subside over time. My doctor said that Lexapro was supposed to act quicker and the side effects should pass quicker too. I am worried about the drug slowing my heart rate. I have a resting heart rate of 60 and I canít imagine wanting to go much lower than that. My doctor wants me to take 5mg a day at first to see how I do. I am thinking of starting lower by splitting the 5mg pill. Any suggestions?

I also would like to handle my attacks w/o meds but I can see over time that my situation seems to be getting worse no matter how hard I try to stay positive by thinking nothing is wrong. Also until I find an answer to what is causing my upper right abdominal discomfort, I donít think I will get better. Who knows, maybe the upper right discomfort is being caused by my stress and anxiety even though it sure feels like physical pain especially when you press on the area of discomfort.

Does one who suffers from panic attacks have a heightened awareness of all sensation in their body? I ask because that is what seems to trigger a lot of my attacks. If all of a sudden I feel a flutter or something else that seems different, ole panic mode kicks in. I catch myself taking shallow breaths and I canít seem to take deep breaths when I try which makes me even more panicky. I panic over thinking I am about to have a panic attack. Itís a vicious cycle. Sorry for the extremely long post, but I feel you may start seeing me here for awhile and I wanted to give you some background on my dealings with panicky feelings. I have and will continue to view a variety of posts since I have been finding a lot of useful information. Thanks for reading.

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